The 44th edition of the world famous aQuellé Midmar Mile went off this weekend without a hitch, with many saying it was the best year yet.
The race had plenty high level excitement in what was a classic finish between reigning heavyweight Chad Ho being narrowly bested by Matthew Meyer. Ashley Twichell proved yet again she’s one of the best in the world with a big win as well.
The venue at the Midmar Dam was once again setup beatuifully with multi-colored tents lining the entire banks of the dam where swimmers and spectators alike created an electric atmosphere that lasted the entire weekend.
Conditions ended up being perfect despite a large thunderstorm Saturday night, conditions were very hot with a slight breeze to make it bearable.
Day 1 on Saturday featured the first four races (all are the same distance) and Sunday finished things off with the highly anticipated women’s and men’s races.
Despite the depth in the elite field, the beauty of the Midmar Mile is that it brings out swimmers of all ages, sizes, races and ability to take part in a sport that brings them all together. Some do it for the challenge, others for the medal and other for various charities. Several of the swimmers even did the whole race butterfly.
The cancer charity the Pink Drive reported that by mid-morning on Sunday over 2 million rand (about $155,000 US) had been raised for the charity.
One of the most inspirational stories had to be that of American Craig Dietz. Dietz was born without arms or legs and managed to swim seven miles over the course of the weekend, now having nine miles total to his name. He completed the men’s race in 33 minutes.
“This is the ultimate long distance swim and having been here in 2013, I had to return. There is nothing like this in America and it is an unbelievable experience.
“The venue, the organisation, the people, the whole atmosphere is something to remember and can never be forgotten,” – Craig Dietz
Even with well over 14,000 people taking part in the event, lifesaving personnel reported no serious incidents, a true testament to the truly amazing and professional organization of this world class event.
Meyer Brings Ho’s Reign to a Close
It sure was an exciting weekend on the elite side of things as well! Teenage sensation Matthew Meyer ended Chad Ho’s dominant seven year winning streak of the race. This was Meyer’s first ever Midmar title in a breakthrough performance over some world-class talent.
Meyer’s time of the 1.6km course was a 18:13, edging out Ho by 5 seconds.
In third place, former global 10km champion Chip Peterson of the United States crossed the line in 18:20. Olympic gold medalist Ferry Weertman of the Netherlands was fourth. The men’s race was one of the closest finishes in Midmar history.
Turning things over to the women’s side, it was American swimmer Ashley Twichell who notched her third Midmar victory. She dropped an impressive 19:24 to take the win from Great Britain’s Holly Hibbott. Twichell has won the event in 2013 and 2014. So for her to be able to get back on top in 2017 was a big win. Hibbott finished 13 seconds back for second. Robyn Kinghorn was the first South African female clocking a 20:34 and finishing 3rd to round out the podium.